As I’m sure you can imagine, there are a lot of benefits to doing community outreach and service learning at the higher education environment. This approach to education has become increasingly common globally. The 2015 UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Report (UIL) emphasizes the trends in higher
education and the role of Universities in Promoting Lifelong Learning, particularly exchanges experiences of teaching and learning. Dr. Carmen I Figueroa as professor in Human Resource Management and advisor of SHRM Student Chapter at University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus encouraging students to lead a professional career and service community. Moreover, Dr. Figueroa allows higher education students to learn more about several areas such as; (1) their individual and group inspirations, (2) develop critical thinking skills, (3) exercise academic material outside of the context of the classroom and testing, (4) and think about the environmental and societal problems and issues exposing them to search for new ways. The following story is one great example of how higher education professors and professional organizations evoke the development toward undergraduate and graduate students. Founded in 1985, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Student Chapter from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) 5333 fulfill thirty-two years of success engaging undergraduate and graduate students awareness for university and community service, also human resources management education.
The SHRM Student Chapter at UPR Mayaguez Campus roots go back to 1985 when Professor Marta Colón as faculty member for the College of Business Administration at UPRM and Senior Professional Human Resource (SPHR) founded the first personnel student chapter at UPRM in Puerto Rico under American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA). Professor Figueroa as an MBA Business Student collaborated with the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter continuing the legacy of Professor Colon as Advisor. Actually, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Campus SHRM Student Chapter 5333 is an affiliate student chapter of the Society for Human Resource (SHRM), an international organization comprised of over 275,000 human resources professionals in over 160 countries. Furthermore, SHRM is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to the professional needs of human resource management. During their journey of thirty-two years as active members of SHRM UPRM Student Chapter, the human resource management undergraduate and graduate students advanced the profession obtaining numerous awards from SHRM National and Regional Professional Chapters for their outstanding and excellent work as following: Outstanding Student Chapter, Superior Merit Student Chapter, Top Ten Student Chapter, and Student Chapter of the Year, among others. The key of success of the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter was the annual strategic planning project based on university and community service, engaging high-school students to pursue an HRM profession at the higher education level. Furthermore, SHRM UPRM Student Chapter was recognized for advancing the HRM profession on education, networking with other academic and professional fields (agricultural sciences, arts and sciences, mainly engineering), service learning and research.
The last ten years of success, the UPRM SHRM Student Chapter established networks with federal and state government agencies and universities such as Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Census Bureau, National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA), University of Colorado among others offering them the opportunity to developing their professional career after the degree completion. Moreover, the SHRM UPRM networking with multinational organizations such as Boeing, Deloitte, Lookheed Martin, Verizon among others allowing HRM undergraduate and graduate students to pursue internships and cooperative education as part of the academic and service experience. The endeavors of the UPRM SHRM Student Chapter allowed the undergraduate students the development of networking with professional and student chapters such as SHRM-Puerto Rico Chapter, SHRM Puerto Rico Southwest Region, American Training and Development-Puerto Rico Chapter (ATD), Southwestern Industrial Association (SWIA),Project Management Institute-Puerto Rico Chapter, Institute of Transportation Engineers-Puerto Rico Chapter, Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico, UPRM Golden Key Society, UPRM Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Association of Supply Management (APICS), ENACTUS UPRM, and among others. The community outreach of the UPRM SHRM Student Chapter was recognized globally from Society of Human Resources Management for the thirty years of support to a variety of non-profit organizations. Some of the organizations that has benefited from their voluntary service and dedication were American Cancer Society, “Estancia Corazón”, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Association of Persons with Disabilities of Mayaguez (AMPI), San Francisco de Asis Sanctuary for Pets, Souls4Soles, and Industry for the Blind Limitless, Luis Salazar Geigel Foundation (non-profit organization for TBI) and American Red Cross.
The community service provided by the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter obtained a lot of positive effects on undergraduate and graduate students, such as helping them to develop skills and competencies, making contacts, and allowing them to improve the quality of life of others. The press releases from the last four years of community and university service learning events evidenced the empathy and compromise from the SHRM undergraduate and graduate students of the College of Business Administration at UPRM working for free to help benefit the Puerto Rico citizens, also to support common relevant themes for Puerto Rico society. Moreover, the student’s members of the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter were applying the experiential learning to develop and delivered business solutions to the non-profit organizations. Every academic year, the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter evolves with the ideas loading from the Big Picture Team composed mainly by undergraduate students on their freshman year allowing them to develop leadership and teamwork skills to be able to pursue any position on the SHRM UPRM Student Chapter Board of Directors for the following academic year. The overall benefits that higher education students will benefit from community outreach and service learning is through personal development. In particular, students were able to develop skills in leadership, communication, working well with a team, and finding solutions to problems, awareness in issues of social justice, involve directly the students with the community supporting relevant themes, increases rates of self-esteem.
Every academic year, SHRM UPRM Student Chapter creates an innovative event related with experiential learning for HRM undergraduate and graduate students. A proof of evidence was the alliance established with HRM graduate students from UNT Dallas offering the first live online videoconference between business schools with a discussion on Diversity and Organizational Development held on December 2015 coordinated by their advisors from both chapters. This efforts provided exercises and learning activities to both business schools for promoting experiential learning and comply with accreditation requirements and standards. The ultimate achievement entails to to be the first Business School of the Caribbean with the fully alignment with the SHRM curriculum guidelines for the B.S. and MBA in Human Resource Management.
The identity of people is in its history. The inspiration for students as future professional that have framed the value of a nation it is socially relevant and useful specially for the higher education students generation. Citing Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Editor in Chief